HOUSTON – Houston City Council is one vote away from issuing a huge increase in water bills for residents.
Over the next five years, customers who use 3,000 gallons of water per month, would see a 78% increase.
“I’m inclined not to vote for it, although I do know that we need it. My ‘no’ vote is directed at the lack of attention. We pay for transparency on this particular issue,” said Mike Knox, Councilmember At-large Position 1.
Knox said that the city has done a poor job educating residents about the need for the increase.
Houston owes the federal government at least two billion dollars in wastewater pollution fines, and that number could more than triple if the city does not replace aging water system infrastructure, as it agreed to do.
The increase will fund the modernization of city water lines and equipment.
On Friday, after the vote was tagged and tabled in city council earlier in the week, the Mayor’s office issued a press release and FAQ, which shows significant increases in water bills starting next month, if the measure passes.
The council will again tackle the issue next week, but Knox is considering suggesting an alternative, a one-time increase of 40-50%.
Knox believes the move is more transparent, palatable, and as effective as stepped increases every year.
Houston’s Super Neighborhood Alliance is also concerned about the lack of communication about the increases.
“They send out water bills every month, why not put a notice and information for customers in there?” said Doug Smith, who sits on the Executive Committee of SNA.
Smith said very few people he had talked to, knew anything about the pending increase.
Here is a copy of the document released by the city of Houston: